Reverend Vivienne Harmon Chapman passed peacefully just shy of her 94th birthday on Dec 7th, 2021, at Evans Park, Newton Corner MA. Born on Staten Island, New York, she was the second child of Reverend Paul Harmon and Violette Lafferty Chapman. She is survived by four children; Caroline Guild, St. John, U.S.V.I.; Todd Guild, Tokyo, Japan and Atlanta, GA; Katherine Guild, Houston, TX; Sylvia Guild Beaudoin, Weston, MA; and by her elder sister, Paulette Chapman Loomis, of Leeds, MA and her five grandchildren as well as nephews and nieces.
Vivienne graduated from Lexington High School receiving a full scholarship to attend Wellesley College, graduating in 1949 with a major in sociology. During WWII Vivienne worked summers in a CT ammunition factory to supplement her scholarship. She met Sydney Theodore Guild, Jr. (Ted Guild) while he was studying at Harvard College on a blind date, and the two married the day after her graduation in 1949 and later divorced in 1977. In 1954, the two built a house in the community of Kendal Common, in Weston, MA. She received a master’s degree in English from Tufts University in 1974, completed all requirements except her thesis for a M. Divinity from the Harvard Divinity School in 1977 and, then, studied at the Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois in 1986-1987.
In her young adulthood, Vivienne was a dedicated mother, and an active volunteer with the League of Women Voters, Friends of the Weston Library, the Boston Interracial Group, and Planned Parenthood. She was very active in the Unitarian Church in Weston, MA where she had a role with the church's Religious Education Program. From there, she became the Director of Religious Education (DRE) in Milton, Concord, and Fairhaven, MA.
Vivienne had a fierce intellect and enjoyed theater, opera, dance, cooking, gardening, sewing and often made her own clothing as a young mother. She was an accomplished pianist and trained singer. She was an avid hiker and visited all but four of the US National Parks, often driving long distances and camping out along the way. Her passion for botany and birds could be seen in her many photographs. She loved the beach and had a beautiful shell collection.
Vivienne received her Massachusetts Teaching Certificate in 1978 and worked as a high school teacher at the Rivers Country Day School in Weston, MA. She also taught AP English, Drama and Speech, at the St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metarie, LA. She derived great satisfaction from teaching English to first-generation immigrant women at the community college level at the College of DuPage in IL. Later in her life, she taught English in public high schools on Cape Cod.
Vivienne worked as an education and program consultant to the Vermont and New Hampshire Unitarian Association renewal project from 1972 to 1974 and was accredited in 1975 by the Unitarian Universalist Association to serve as a Director of Religious Education. Between 1975 and 1985, Vivienne served as the Director of Religious Education (DRE) in churches including the First Parish Church, Lexington; First Parish Church in Milton, MA; First Church in New Orleans; and the All Souls Church in Washington, DC. She held numerous posts within the Unitarian Universalist Church organization: Board Member of the Massachusetts Bay District Board (1969-1974), the New England Inter-District Board (1971-1975), Co-Chair of the Unitarian Universalist Annual conference (1971-1974), Dean of the Ferry Beach Retreat and Conference Center (1975), and President of the Greater Washington D.C. UU Chapter (1985-1986).
Community service and religious community was central to her life. Vivienne joined an increasing number of women who sought ordination in the Unitarian Universalist Church. In 1987, she served as Ministerial Intern at the First Unitarian Church, Toledo, OH. She served as the minister of the First Unitarian Church in Lubbock, TX., where she was ordained in 1988. She returned to Massachusetts and served as Interim and Visiting Minister at the Unitarian Church of Barnstable and the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House of Chatham. She continued to preach and fill in for New England UU ministers into her 80s, preaching at one of her father's parishes in Greenfield, MA on Easter Sunday at age 86. Her sermons are held at the reference library of the Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA.
In 2008, Reverend Chapman retired to South Yarmouth, MA, and in 2015, moved to Evans Park at Newton Corner.
Memorials in her name can be made to the Faith & Family Hospice Foundation, 420 Lakeside Ave., Suite 203A, Marlborough, MA, 01752.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Rev. Vivienne Harmon Chapman, please visit our floral store.
Faith & Family Hospice Foundation
420 Lakeside Ave, Suite 203A, Marlborough MA 01752